A Beginner’s Guide to Picking Up Airmiles (a.k.a. Frequent Flyer Points)
For some people, air miles (also known as frequent flyer points) are a nice little bonus for taking a trip, but something that they’ll probably never end up using.
What are frequent-flyer points?
Frequent flyer points are accumulated by flying or by meeting certain criteria (such as spending money on your credit card). They can be cashed in or ‘spent’ in return for free air travel or for other goods or services (such as airport lounge access or priority bookings).
For others, airmiles are something that can be used to great effect to get you lots of free stuff.
While you don’t have to be Ryan Bingham from the film Up In The Air to get the most out of frequent flyer points, it does pay to follow the tips on this page.
So here it is: The beginner’s guide to creating an effective air miles points strategy.
Note that while this guide was written with the intention of getting the most out of your frequent flyer points, you don’t have to follow every step to see the benefits. For example, if you aren’t keen on the idea of having a credit card (which can earn you frequent flyer miles through spending), that’s no problem – there are plenty of other ways of earning miles.
1) Open up an Airmiles account – If you haven’t already, you need to open a frequent flyer account with one (or more than one) of the major loyalty programs.
The six best (according to ThePointsGuy.com) are:
- US Airways
- British Airways
2) Setup an online mileage manager – The top mileage managers are AwardWallet.com, Tripit and UsingMiles.com. These are free-to-use sites that allow you to keep track of how many miles you’ve got, as well as letting you know when your airmiles are about to expire – all in one convenient place.
3) Get yourself an air miles credit card – There are so many credit cards out there now that finding one that offers you a big sign-up bonus (of lots of points) is fairly easy, and is a great way to start building up points.
For a detailed list of which air miles credit cards are best, check out TravelCreditCards.com.
4) Use your credit card for all your purchases (or for all major purchases) – Using a credit card that earns you frequent flyer miles (and making sure to pay it off on-time every month) is a great way to earn lots of a points with very little additional effort.
Unfortunately, some shops/merchants will charge you a fee for paying on credit card (usually around 3%). In cases such as these, it’s better to pay with cash (or with a debit card that won’t get charged extra), as the points you’ll be earning probably won’t be worth the additional money you’re paying.
Tim Ferriss (author of the Four Hour Work Week) once bragged about ‘never having to pay for airfare’ (despite flying regularly) because he earned so many points using his credit card. At the time he was running his own company from home and using his credit card for all business expenses.
5) Shop online via online mileage malls – When shopping online, if you buy items from an ‘online mileage mall’ you automatically receive frequent flyer points for every dollar/pound/euro you spend.
When shopping through an online mileage mall don’t forget to pay using your air miles reward credit card for additional points!
Here’s a list of the top online mileage malls:
- American Express Bonus Points Mall
- American Airlines AAdvantageEshopping.com
- Air Canada Aeroplan EStore
- Delta Skymilesshopping.com
- United Airlines Mileageplusshopping.com
- Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping
6) Subscribe to blogs for the up-to-date info on travel deals – There are lots of blogs out there written by people who’re constantly scouring the internet for ways to earn frequent flyer points (such as new credit cards that offer massive sign-up bonuses). Two of the best are:
7) Sign up for a dining bonus program – Signing up for one of these programs allows you to earn miles every time you eat out at one of the participating restaurants.
Check out this page for a detailed rundown of dining bonus programs.
- What’s the Best Credit Card for Travel? A Detailed Look at Credit Card Travel Rewards
- Cash, Credit Cards or Traveler’s Checks – A Guide to Handling Money Abroad
- A Quick Guide to Travel Visas
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